This is Jia Perkins' sixth WNBA ( Women's National Basketball Association ) season and, clearly, her best. An appearance in the annual All-Star Game in late Julyher firstis proof of that.
She's averaging about 15 points, 4 steals and 5 assists per game, and her 43 percent three-point shooting average ranks fifth in the WNBA.
"I think we had a good team last year and it's pretty much the same team this year, just with a little more experience," said Perkins, 27, in her fourth season with the Chicago Sky. "I think we recognize how good we are and we don't want to settle for being anything less than what we are and that is, a playoff team. I think we're really working hard to get a spot in the playoffs.
"Our destiny is in our own hands. We're not going to rely on anyone else. We're going to get things done with our game and not worry about [ hoping other ] teams lose. I think we've been playing some good basketball lately."
Perkins has scored 20 or more points four times this season, highlighted by a 29-point showing in July against San Antonio.
"I'm just doing anything I have to do to help my team," she said. "Offensively, I'm trying to step my game up. Having two of the best post players in the league on my team just helps make my game a lot easier because they demand so much attention.
"I'm happy with my play this season. I think I've been a lot more consistent this year. It's been a rewarding season because I made the All-Star Team, but I had a good year last year as well."
Perkins attended Texas Tech University, and then made her WNBA debut in 2005 with Connecticut. And yes, that meant a collegiate brush-with-Bobby … former Texas Tech men's coach Bob Knight, that is.
"It was good times [ at Tech ] , close bonds with my teammates," she said. "My senior year, I think we could have made it to at least the Final Four, but we didn't. Still, it was fun, a good learning experience.
" [ Knight ] was a great coach, but I never was star-struck when I saw him. He was a nice guy."
After all, she could have been star-struck at homeher dad, Johnny, played for the New York Giants.
"I know that he knows what he's talking about in sports," Perkins said. "He's always believed I can be a great player, no matter where I was [ playing ] . He knows a lot about the sport [ of basketball ] ."
So, Jia, what about Chicago?
"I like it, though it's still a little cold during the summer. Remember, I'm from Texas, so I'm not used to any cold [ temperatures ] during the summer," she said. "I like the city; there's a lot to do here, especially culturally. However, I'm actually a homebody, so I haven't really done much, but I always enjoy going to the Taste [ of Chicago ] , the Jazz Festival and the Gospel Festival.
"Usually, when we're not playing or practicing, I'm just resting. It's such a long season and we have so many games. I also like to catch up on movies, which I've done a lot this summer. I guess I need to find a hobby."